Mar. 5, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (18) skates off the ice with a trainer after getting hit in the face with a puck against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Rangers won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Is Too Reactionary When It Comes To Hot Button Issues, And Then Does Nothing About Them


The NHL and the NHLPA need to take a long look in the mirror and become more proactive instead of reactive when it comes to protecting its players.

I am sick and tired of issues coming up after the fact, and then nothing is done about it until the next time it becomes a problem.

 

Three incidents in the past month, all of the very scary variety, and all of a sudden they are hot-button issues.  Erik Karlsson get sliced by a skate, and Kevlar socks are all the rage…until Marc Staal gets blasted in the eye with a puck, and then mandatory visors become the topic du jour.  Then last night Dave Dziurzynski gets knocked out cold by Frazer McLaren during a fight that had nothing to do with the play, but was staged, as Zack Smith stated after the game that McLaren asked Dziurzynski to go as soon as they stepped on the ice, before the faceoff.

I am all for fighting in the NHL when it is a reaction to something that has happened on the ice.  A player taking liberties with one of your players, sometimes matters need to be taken into your own hands, like Zdeno Chara did to Alexei Emelin earlier this week.  Emelin cross-checked Tyler Seguin in the ribs away from the play and paid the price for his actions.

But staged fighting, right off the whistle, is not a part of the game.  It is an attempt for a fringe NHLer to show that he has a purpose in the lineup so he can keep his job.  Would the Fraser McLarens, John Scotts, Brian McGrattans of the world be in the NHL if there was no fighting?  Probably not.

Its time for the league to crack down on this trend before someone gets killed.  These goons are becoming too big and when they can’t play the game its time to get rid of them.

And as for the visor issue, would it stop all eye injuries?  Maybe not, but you can rest assured that if Marc Staal had been wearing one, he would be in the lineup for the Rangers when they face the Senators Friday, not sitting around wondering if he will get back into the lineup, and when.  All players entering the league now have worn visors their entire lives, some wearing full masks if they come from the NCAA.  Its time to take away the choice for those players coming into the league to wear a visor or not, just like they did for helmets so many years ago.

As for the socks, the Karlsson injury was a one-off absolutely freak injury, but with the speed of the game, the number of pileups and scrums, especailly in the crease, and the sharpness of the blades, its almost crazy to think it hasn’t happened before.  Players would be silly not to make them protect themselves as much as possible.

It is too late for them to get out front of these issues, but now its time for the leaders of the game, in the NHL and NHLPA to at least stem the tide so they don’t happen as often.  Freak occurrences are going to happen and you will never be able to entirely eliminate them.  But someday someone is going to get killed on the ice and it will cast a shadow over the great game if something wasn’t done to at least reduce the chances of something tragic happening.

 

 

Tags: Erik Karlsson Fighting Injuries Marc Staal NHL Popular Visors

  • GoalieGuy62

    Actually, there has been at least one on ice death recorded. Bill Masterton died from a head injury sustained during a game in 1968. He was not wearing a helmet in an era when the players were smaller and the game was significantly slower. His legacy is of course the trophy that bares his name.

  • Tim Bayer

    I agree, the NHL is incredibly slow to react and make necessary changes to the game to improve players’ safety. Instead of fooling around with the ridiculous ideas of bigger nets, bigger offensive zones, smaller goalie equipment, etc., there are much greater issues in the game that need to be fixed. Visors should be mandatory, better ankle protection should be implemented, and fighting should be banned. And while I agree with you that Frazer McLaren isn’t a very good hockey player and shouldn’t be employed by any team, I’d like to remind you that it takes two to tango. This isn’t a Frazer McLaren issue, this is a game of hockey issue.

    • Jared Crozier

      i agree its a hockey issue, but would McLaren, John Scott and Brian McGrattan (to name but three) be in the league if there was no fighting?